Child Labor in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Critics And Reformers - Essay

John Spargo (essay date 1906)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Spargo, John. “The Working Child.” In The Bitter Cry of the Children, pp. 125-217. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1968.

[In the following excerpt, originally published in 1906, Spargo explores the physical, moral, social, and economic implications of child labor in the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.]

“In this boasted land of freedom there are bonded baby slaves,
And the busy world goes by and does not heed.
They are driven to the mill, just to glut and overfill
Bursting coffers of the mighty monarch, Greed.
When they perish we are told it is God's will,
Oh, the roaring of the mill, of the mill!”


(The entire section is 22418 words.)

Linda Atkinson (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Atkinson, Linda. “The Children.” In Mother Jones: The Most Dangerous Woman in America, pp. 114-33. New York: Crown Publishers, 1978.

[In the following excerpt, Atkinson discusses the work of American labor activist Mary (“Mother”) Jones on behalf of working children.]

Children at work, either beside their parents or at tasks which they could handle alone, was not a new thing in the nineteenth century. Children had always worked on the farm and in the home. But children at work in mines and factories from sunrise to sunset, children who were stoop-shouldered and ill by the time they were ten, and who were commonly crippled on the “job”—that was...

(The entire section is 4649 words.)

Clark Nardinelli (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Nardinelli, Clark. “The Critics of Child Labor.” In Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution, pp. 9-35. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990.

[In the following excerpt, Nardinelli examines the agendas of groups seeking regulation of child labor.]

Most civilized people consider the mistreatment of children to be an outrage. Because the employment of children in factories and workshops has long been considered to be the worst sort of treatment, child labor has never lacked critics. Indeed, by far the greater part of the commentators on child labor have been highly critical of the practice. In this chapter, I will assess the views of some of the...

(The entire section is 10514 words.)